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Westwood

High tax burden and dangerous conditions

by GregAgnew

We all know that the Metro West and coastal areas of Massachusetts have been hit hard with two massive snow storms in 2011, and that most cities and towns have already blown through their allocated budgets, and have since requested to take more taxpayer money, which prompts the question that has been asked frequently: why continually go over budget when you’ve been dealing with snow removal for centuries in Massachusetts?

Each year, our budget is faced with a puzzling question: why do DPW department heads continually ask for so little, when the numbers indicate they always need more? Especially since the past two snow removal jobs in Westwood, MA have been sub-par at best, even with crews supposedly working long hours day and night to resolve the many transportation issues we face with the Public Schools, and our residents venturing out to work each day.

The past snow removal that occurred on January 12, 2011, was particularly atrocious. Streets were left partially plowed for up to three hours, driveways faced mountain-esque blockages due to loader-plowing, and main roads (such as Route 109) were almost un-drivable for almost two days. The DPW, from hearing radio communication, were down a few trucks due to malfunctioning sanders, which is understandable. However, contractor CJP & Sons, responsible for most of Precinct 4, were fully operational, yet very unprofessional, slow, and unresponsive to the needs of those wanting to drive to work, or leave their homes.

After two appalling snow removals by Millis, MA based CJP & Sons, I question the town’s ability to award contracts to qualified bidders. These comments come in lieu of seeing the superior snow removal of the neighboring towns of Dedham, Norwood, Walpole, and Medway. Now, I am not sure who contract plows for the aforementioned towns, but they sure did a far better job. For all I know, CJP & Sons could just be over extended, but if they are, they should have the sense to tell the town of Westwood they will not be able to perform quality snow removal.

With over 32 years of knowledge from a family member who worked everything from small snowplows to Caterpillar front-end loaders in the snow, I know the difference between a quality job, and an unqualified or over extended crew.

Let’s right this situation by re-visiting our plowing contracts for 2012, and make sure they can get the job done. Especially since our taxes are rising at least 6% more in 2012 (without the new library project figured in), due to Westwood’s mistake of allowing developer CC&F to demolish buildings before funding was secured for the Westwood Station Project.

To combat this residential tax increase, I 1). Advise residents to file for a tax abatement at town hall, and 2). Encourage residents to share their ideas on how we may attract more commercial development to the Economic Development Advisory Board, on which I sit. From here, we can start developing a more inclusive discussion to allow everyone to share their solutions for a better Westwood, where each resident can have a say in what they think is best for the town’s health and overall growth.

In the future, I hope we all can enjoy a problem free commute in the snow, and a lower tax burden next time around. With better ideas and thought processes from our Board of Selectman and other elected officials, we can all benefit in the end.

Makes me wonder why I decided not to run for Selectman.

The full post can be found at: http://bit.ly/agnewsnowremoval 

Why I won't run in 2011

by GregAgnew

Dear Friends, Family, and residents of Westwood,

During my first attempt to lead Westwood residents to a brighter future, I was ultimately not successful. The process was physically draining, very time-consuming, and left little time to myself to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. With that being said, I can’t deny that I highly enjoyed the experience, had fun, and very much looked forward to challenging myself again by running for elected office in the future.

The April 2008 elections were, in my mind, a very good litmus test of how the town would look three years from then. Now, in 2010, with that three-year mark fast approaching, we are left to wonder why Westwood Station has yet to move an inch, while all of our property taxes have risen miles. April 2008 told many of us that the town of Westwood was going to continue in the direction it had been traveling for decades before. The voters decided that it was better to send many candidates to Town Hall who lacked the professional skill sets, vision, and youthful presence and energy that we clearly needed in order to reach a successful outcome with the University Avenue property.

During the better part of 2010, I had the urge many times to vigorously pursue my goal of righting the situation for all of us, by running for Selectman again, and presenting new and creative strategies that I knew could improve the town immediately, without relying on the “all eggs in one basket” approach (and we know where that’s gotten us). None of us ever wanted Westwood Station to fail like it has, since the impact of losing all of the once occupied commercial spaces was a hit to all of us. The wrong thing to do is to place the blame on one, or more elected bodies in the town. The solution is to come together, create ideas, present successful strategies, and invent a compromise that will benefit us all, rather than to pander to one or more groups of people in town.

We need motivated, excited, intelligent, and creative people to step up to the plate, and make a difference by including all residents that live in town. We need a comprehensive effort, by all of our voters, to encourage their neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers to rise to the occasion, try something new, and run for office. It’s time for us to put our heads together, and focus on the one thing that we all have in common: protecting our future in Westwood. We all have an interest in helping keep the property taxes lower, to include the ideas of those who have been silenced in the past, to demand governmental transparency, and to break the cycle of leaders who struggle to communicate with their fellow citizens.

It is with great displeasure that I’m announcing to you today that I will not be considered as a candidate for Selectman in Westwood for the 2011 Election cycle. I simply don’t have the time to run the type of campaign that I am used to running, which is a successful one. I’ve thought for years that when December 2010 rolled around, I’d be ready to go. But, I’m not. I have too many family members, too many employees, and too many friends that rely on me every day, and I simply can’t add another item to my plate. I’m sorry to those who wanted to be a part of my team, and to those who have cheered me on in the past, supporting my aspirations for a 2011 victory. However, this does not mean that I’m fading away, never to be heard from again.

I wish everyone the very best Christmas and Holiday Season, and I sincerely hope each registered Westwood resident can get out to vote in April 2011.

Best Wishes,

Greg Agnew

Globe gives mention to Westwood's residents, charter

by GregAgnew

In the Sunday Boston Globe, published on August 15, 2010, Michelle Morgan Bolton, Globe Correspondent for the Westwood/Dedham areas, was charged with the assignment of writing a story to highlight Westwood’s second attempt since 1987 to re-write its Town Charter. Sparking this article were numerous suggested changes in 2009 to the charter by Westwood residents Michael F. Walsh (current State Senate Candidate), David Feyler, Jason Lee, and Myself.

My attempt to change the way we vote in Westwood garnered the most vocal support at a town meeting in early 2009, when I proposed that we change Town Election day to Saturday, instead of Tuesday, citing that it was safer for both children, and their parents, to vote on Saturday. This move could also boost participation almost 20%, providing people with more time to vote on the weekends, when they don’t have to worry about getting to work on time after voting on a Tuesday, or having to rush home from work in order to beat the early evening poll closures. In the end, the petition was voted down, but not without discussion. Selectman Pat Ahearn was concerned that the move may bar certain individuals (such as Orthodox Jews) from voting on Saturday, since their religious obligations prevent them from using modern technology (such as cars, as a mode of transportation) on Saturdays.

However, during my research for this proposal, I found that out of all of the residents in Westwood, only a select few observed strict Jewish practices and were able to vote via absentee ballot, just like many of our troops fighting overseas who reside in Westwood. I even took the time to speak with Jewish residents, who all agreed with my petition and supported my cause. I also called the Westwood Council on Aging to make sure that the vans that transported seniors to and from the polls would still run at no additional cost to the town. All my bases were covered, however, so I was not necessarily unhappy with the outcome.

During my petition’s journey to the floor of town meeting, I was scheduled to appear in front of the Financial Commission to state my case in order for them to suggest a “no” or “yes” vote in their annual report. Even though my petition, and several others had absolutely nothing to do with the town’s finances, it’s still a common practice for some reason. I acknowledge that the move to voting on Saturday could slightly more (having to pay poll workers and the Town Clerk etc…), it was well worth it. Due to a scheduling conflict, I was unable to make the presentation to the FinCom, and I charged Michael F. Walsh to speak on my behalf. Although Michael spoke well, my name was publicly (as I was told) berated due to my decision to focus on my then studies at Assumption College.

In the end, I was not disappointed with the decision of the town not to support my petition, rather, I was unhappy with the way I was treated.

I was proud that I not only tried (once again) to make a difference at such a young age, but I was also proud that I garnered some support from old friends, and some new ones. This article in the Globe only further motivates me to one day run again for public office, and to make my best attempt every day to promote meaningful solutions to complex problems we face. Perhaps my attempt, in addition to many others’ attempts since 1987, who tried to move Westwood in a meaningful direction, sparked a discussion, that eventually led to the forming of the Charter Commission.

And that, I too can say, I’m very proud of.

For the full article: Click Here!

Local Resident to host "Candidate's Discussion Night"

by GregAgnew

Dear Friends,

Westwood Resident & Author Steven Greffenius will be hosting a “Candidate’s Discussion Night” for voters, candidates, current public officials, and other parties who have a vested interest in Westwood and the surrounding communities.

The purpose of this informal meeting is to further stimulate and discuss the issues surrounding the town of Westwood’s future. Many residents have not had the pleasure of meeting many of the candidates running for contested Public Office here in Westwood, including:

  • Steve Maggiacomo, School Committee
  • Carol Lewis, School Committee
  • Jack O’Brien, School Committee
  • John Cummings, School Committee
  • Jason Lee, Sewer Commissioner
  • Jim Connors, Sewer Commissioner

Interestingly enough, this is also the first time that Westwood will be the home town for a Candidate for Federal Office (U.S. Congress Candidate Phil Dunkelbarger) and for State Office (State Senate Candidate Mike Walsh).

The event will be held at 51 Oriole Rd. in Westwood, MA 02090 from 7:00 pm to roughly 8:30 pm on Tuesday, April 20, 2010. Each resident will have the opportunity to informally meet with other concerned voters in town, in addition to any of the candidates who choose to attend.

This is a great event for all who are also interested in running for Public Office in the future, and for anyone wanting to make an informed choice at the polls on April 27, 2010. I strongly encourage you to make this event a priority, since limited time is available to meet the candidates before the election!

Questions and intentions to attend should be directed to: 781-223-1396 or by email: steveng@techwritepublishing.com.

 

Best Wishes,

Greg Agnew

PS- Article copied with permission from http://gregagnew.com. Your source for community information, updates, and thoughts on town politics. 

   

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